Kenzi Wood is a six-figure freelance writer who partners with marketing agencies. In her past life as a marketer, she specialized in SEO, PPC, and content marketing. Today she specializes in content generation for blogs, websites, TikTok, YouTube, and everything in between.
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Thank you for joining us today. Please introduce yourself to our readers. They want to know you, some of the background story to bring some context to your interview.
Kenzi Wood: My name is Makenzi Wood, but you can just call me Kenzi. I’m a marketer turned freelance writer based in sunny San Antonio, Texas. As a content writer, I help businesses ramp up their content. I worked as a marketing manager in several small businesses and even Fortune 500 enterprises. But after 5 years of marketing my heart out, I realized writing was my real passion. What started as a side hustle to pay off student loans turned into so much more. After making a name for myself and building up a roster of amazing clients, I started Kenzi Writes in October of 2018. Today, I do work I love with clients who rock. I help businesses find their footing online and I’m having a ton of fun doing it!
You are a successful entrepreneur, so we’d like your viewpoint, do you believe entrepreneurs are born or made? Explain.
Kenzi Wood: Honestly, I think it’s a little bit of both. Owning your own business certainly takes an amount of courage, curiosity, and risk-taking that isn’t right for everyone. You do need the right personality traits to be successful, in my opinion. But the good news is that just about anyone can become an entrepreneur if that’s what they want to do. I never thought self-employment would be for me, but after falling into it by accident, I realized I loved it! So even if you don’t “feel” like a natural entrepreneur, entrepreneurship is still for you as long as you have the drive to make it happen.
If you were asked to describe yourself as an entrepreneur in a few words, what would you say?
Kenzi Wood: I pride myself on being a quirky entrepreneur. I do my best to be professional, of course, but I don’t think there’s anything wrong with letting your personality shine.
Tell us about what your company does and how did it change over the years?
Kenzi Wood: Kenzi Writes started as a side hustle to pay off student loans. I had no intention of taking the business full-time at first. But after expanding my client list, I quickly realized how profitable it could be–and it didn’t hurt that I was good at it! I took the business full-time in 2018. Today, I write content primarily for marketing agencies and their clients. That includes blogs, social media posts, video scripts, email campaigns, and even press releases and white papers. The core work that I do hasn’t changed, but I’ve streamlined and improved the business so I could take on more clients in less time.
Thank you for all that. Now for the main focus of this interview. With close to 11.000 new businesses registered daily in the US, what must an entrepreneur assume when starting a business?
Kenzi Wood: Assume that failure isn’t an option. You’ve got to be hungry if you want to make it, especially since a good percentage of new businesses shut their doors in their first 2 years. For example, during the early days of the pandemic, I lost 50% of my business. Instead of shutting down the business, I pivoted my offerings to focus on helping businesses digitize for COVID-19. It was a lot of pressure, but I was committed to making this happen, which is why I had to evolve the business. So, don’t be afraid to change what you’re doing to survive.
Did you make any wrong assumptions before starting a business that you ended up paying dearly for?
Kenzi Wood: Oh yes! At first, I took on every project that came my way. I was operating out of a scarcity mentality, thinking that I would drive my business into the ground if I didn’t take on every project. But as I soon found out, some projects just weren’t a good fit, either in terms of the pay, project scope, or the client. I wish I had been more choosy in those early days; it would have saved me so much time. I could have dedicated my focus to finding higher-quality clients and growing my business more quickly.
If you could go back in time to when you first started your business, what advice would you give yourself and why? Explain.
Kenzi Wood: Hire an accountant. I tried to DIY my books at first to save money and I regretted it. I’m more of a creative and math doesn’t come to me naturally. I was always so stressed out about the business’s financials, and especially with taxes! I hired an accountant two years ago and it was the best money I ever spent. I wish I had done that from the start. It would have given me cleaner financial history, as well as helped me project revenue more easily. Oh, and it makes taxes a breeze!
What is the worst advice you received regarding running a business and what lesson would you like others to learn from your experience?
Kenzi Wood: That you need to spend money to succeed. I felt insecure when I first started my business. I thought I had to pay for training, buy equipment, and attend high-end conferences to succeed. As it turns out, you don’t need to buy much of anything in my business. All of my work is digital, so as long as I have a computer and a wifi connection, I can do my work. There’s no need to pay out the wazoo to start your own business. Try to keep the overhead as low as possible, and don’t let people persuade you to buy anything you don’t need.
In your opinion, how has COVID-19 changed what entrepreneurs should assume before starting a business? What hasn’t changed?
Kenzi Wood: When I take a long-term view, COVID-19 was good for my business. More businesses are being forced to digitize, which means they need to expand their digital footprint with content. So, in this way, COVID-19 sped up the move to digital that was already happening. In terms of how COVID-19 has changed entrepreneurship, I think it’s created an environment that favors agility and low overhead. These things were important before, but now it feels like there’s a much thinner margin for error. That’s why I think it’s so important to hire an accountant and keep your expenses as low as possible when you first start.
What is a common myth about entrepreneurship that aspiring entrepreneurs and would-be business owners believe in? What advice would you give them?
Kenzi Wood: The worst myth about entrepreneurship is that it’s an “easy” way to become a millionaire. I know it’s worked out that way for some people, but the vast majority of entrepreneurs don’t have that experience. My business earns six figures and I do well, but it’s a grind and I’m certainly not “rich” because of it. However, I do consider myself richer in terms of freedom and control over my time, which has been the biggest benefit of starting my own business. So, instead of starting a business to become rich, do it because entrepreneurship works for you. If you approach it with curiosity and a growth mindset, the income will take care of itself.
What traits, qualities, and assumptions do you believe are most important to have before starting a business?
Kenzi Wood: Humility and curiosity are so important. It’s easy to feign confidence when you’re scared, but that can quickly morph into arrogance if you aren’t careful. Nobody has all of the answers in entrepreneurship, and everything changes constantly. But if you maintain a sense of curiosity and stay open to the “what ifs,” you’ll build not only a business that you love but a business that supports you financially.
How can aspiring leaders prepare themselves for the future challenges of entrepreneurship? Are there any books, websites, or even movies to learn from?
Kenzi Wood: I read Ask A Manager every day! It’s been instrumental in teaching me how to handle sticky situations with contractors and clients. As an introvert, I also loved the book “Sorry I’m Late, I Didn’t Want To Come.” I don’t usually read self-help books these days, but this is a book I find myself reading over and over again. It’s been a great resource for learning how to network and make meaningful relationships in business.
You have shared quite a bit of your wisdom and our readers thank you for your generosity but would also love to know: If you could choose any job other than being an entrepreneur, what would it be?
Kenzi Wood: If I had it my way, I would bake for a living. Baking is my favorite way to de-stress and I’d love to do it every day. I went to a job interview at a bakery many years ago out of curiosity. It was a lot of work for little pay, so it didn’t work out for me, but I still like to daydream.
Thank you so much for your time, I believe I speak for all of our readers when I say that this has been incredibly insightful. We do have one more question: If you could add anyone to Mount Rushmore, but not a politician, who would it be; why?
Kenzi Wood: Well, since Mount Rushmore is on the lands of the Lakota Sioux, I think it would be more appropriate to ask them.
Jed Morley, VIP Contributor to ValiantCEO and the host of this interview would like to thank Kenzi Wood for taking the time to do this interview and share her knowledge and experience with our readers.
If you would like to get in touch with Kenzi Wood or her company, you can do it through her – Linkedin Page
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